Clemens critical of new book

Updated: May 14, 2009, 11:18 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Roger Clemens ended his long media silence Tuesday on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning," sticking to his story that he has never used performance-enhancing drugs and calling excerpts of a recently released book about him "completely false."

Clemens, in a phone interview with hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, appeared on the same day that "American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime," a book by four New York Daily News reporters, was released.

"I've seen excerpts of the book. They're completely false," Clemens said.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner also continued to deny that he was given steroids and human growth hormone by his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, saying it was "impossible" that drug paraphernalia supplied to federal prosecutors by McNamee has his DNA on it.

Clemens also said he still considers former teammate Andy Pettitte a friend, though he also held firm to his assertion that Pettitte "misremembers" a conversation in which Pettitte said they discussed performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's piling on, it's hurtful at times," Clemens said of the allegations that have been made against him. "I'm trying to move on."

Clemens, who is under a federal grand jury investigation for perjury following his testimony before Congress, said he decided to end his silence and react to the book because he plans to leave his Texas home for a week's vacation.

"I was informed this book was coming out and thought we ought to talk about it," Clemens told "Mike and Mike in the Morning." "It's important for me to do that."

Clemens has retained a communications firm, Levick Strategic Communications. The firm's vice president, Gene Grabowski, also spoke with "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on Tuesday in a separate interview.

"They came in and said, 'You need to get your story out about all this garbage that is being said,'" Clemens said.

Asked about "American Icon," by Daily News reporters Teri Thompson, Nathaniel Vinton, Michael O'Keeffe and Christian Red, Clemens said, "I've seen excerpts of the book, they're completely false." He did not specify which part of the book he had seen.

Vinton, also appearing on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," responded to Clemens' criticism.

"Our book is really backed up by a lot of documentation and interviews with key players," Vinton said, "It's not false, we really researched this carefully ... and take it very seriously."

When asked about the physical evidence reportedly handed over by McNamee to federal investigators and whether it had his DNA on it, Clemens said, "Impossible, because he's never given me any [performance-enhancing drugs], it's as simple as that. He's never given me HGH or any kind of performance-enhancing drug, so it's impossible."

Later in the interview, he said McNamee "never injected me with HGH or steroids." Pointing out that his family has a history of heart conditions, Clemens said "It would be suicidal for me to even think about taking any of these dangerous drugs."

However, one of the examples of heart conditions in his family that he pointed to in the interview was the death of his stepfather. On Thursday, Clemens clarified his comment in a statement:

"During the short interview I mentioned my concern about the effect steroids could have on the heart, and I talked about my brother and stepfather. Because I mentioned my stepfather, many people have questioned my sincerity. The reality is that my stepfather was like a father to me and watching him die from a sudden heart attack was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. Those memories are vivid in my mind to this day."

Asked about Pettitte's testimony that Clemens had told him he used HGH, Clemens repeated a line that he uttered during his congressional testimony: "Andy misremembers." He said he'd only talked to Pettitte a few times since then because of the legal issues.

"I still consider Andy a friend," Clemens said.

"I don't care to even comment on that or anything, OK?" Pettitte said Tuesday night before the Yankees played at Toronto.

Following the interview, McNamee's lawyer, Richard Emery, told Andrew Marchand of ESPN 1050 New York that Clemens' comments would only energize federal prosecutors in their perjury investigation. He also said McNamee has continued to cooperate with the investigation.

"The only thing new is [Clemens'] tactic of actually speaking publicly, which I think is going to be like poking a stick in the federal government's eye and Congress' eye because he is basically saying he didn't lie to Congress when it is perfectly obvious that he did," Emery said. "I think it is going to speed up and energize the prosecution."

As for his role in the probe, Clemens said he has submitted a DNA sample -- "I did it right out of the gate, willingly," he said -- and that he has not been summoned by a federal grand jury.

"Everywhere I've gone and gotten the opportunity to speak to young kids or college kids, I take a lot of pride in telling those boys to get after it and do things the right way and take care of your body, because I know how I did it," he said. "For some of that to come in question, of course it's hurtful. But it's not going to break my spirit."

When asked about opinion polls showing the public does not believe his denials, Clemens said "All I can do is speak the truth and from my heart to them."

"I know what your polls say, [but] I've been getting great responses everywhere I've gone in the cities I've traveled to. All I can do is be me and give them the message I just told you about that steroids are bad for these kids. You don't want to have anything to do with them the way they tear your body down," he said.

"But I can't defend a negative. When you've got somebody that's out there that is really just crawling up your back to make a buck -- which is what this is -- other than speaking out, what else can you do?"

Clemens' former manager in New York, Joe Torre, appearing on ESPN Radio's "Tirico and Van Pelt" show, said that Clemens' self-confidence was one of his strongest competitive aspects as a player, but may have hampered him when it came time to address the allegations in the Mitchell report in front of Congress.

"I think when he speaks -- and maybe that's why he played so well for so long -- is that fact that he basically believes what he says," Torre told hosts Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt.

"There's a side of Roger that makes you want to hug him," Torre added. "He's been that guy that everyone's paid attention to and nobody's ever questioned, so it may be a point in time where that has to sort of run out the hourglass."